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Palestine, Israel and Dissent

It seems that the United States just can’t prevent itself from protecting Apartheid Israel. Just when it seemed that even U.S. government opinion was turning, the U.S. decided to arrest several members of FIFA (The Fédération Internationale de Football Association; English: International Federation of Association Football or International Federation of Soccer) the day before FIFA was to vote on expelling Israel. The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) had made the request for the vote, based on several Israeli violations of the FIFA charter. These include the following:

* Restricting the movement of Palestinian players, thus preventing them from participating in soccer games;

* Preventing the establishment of Palestinian soccer clubs in East Jerusalem;

* Refusing to issue necessary permits for foreign delegations visits;

* Operating Israeli soccer teams in the occupied West Bank, in violation not only of FIFA rules, but international law as well.

Disabling two promising young Palestinian soccer players, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, age 19, and Adam Abd Al-Raouf Halabiya, age 17. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) terrorists shot them multiple times in the feet as they walked home from soccer practice on January 31, 2014. Mr. Jawhar was shot in the feet ten times; Mr. Halabiya, once in each foot. They are lucky they can walk; they will never be able to play soccer again.

The rampant corruption of the FIFA is legendary, yet it remains the most viable and, for some reasons, prestigious, soccer association in the world. The expulsion of Israel would send a worldwide message, one that apparently the U.S. isn’t quite ready for the world to hear. What better way to derail it than by arresting several high-ranking FIFA executives, avoiding the vote and the most unpleasant news headlines it might have generated? All FIFA news now will be on the arrests, and that news will fade quickly; few people really care enough to pay attention. But Israel can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that it once again, thanks to its mentor, dodged another international bullet in its reputation.

Yet it remains wounded; social media is now the prosecution, judge, jury and executioner, wresting those roles from a very resistant U.S.,fantina which sees those functions as its sole province. How dare anyone take from U.S. corporate-owned media the role of telling people what is important, and what can be ignored!

But Facebook, Twitter and several other sites have done just that, widely publicizing Israel’s many war crimes, and U.S. complicity in them. As a result, more and more schools and churches are divesting from Israeli companies, fewer entertainers are willing to perform in Israel, and distinguished academics are rejecting invitations to participate in events in Israel.

Well, if the U.S. can’t control the flow of information anymore, it can outlaw that which it doesn’t like. Across the nation, there are measures to stifle protests against U.S. support for Israeli apartheid, and the main targets are the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement and, incredibly, university campuses. The old paradigm of institutions of higher learning as places where students confront new ideas, and are challenged to step out of their comfort zones is, apparently, no longer valid. They are not places where people learn to think, but rather where they are educated to perform whatever jobs corporate America may have to offer, on whatever temporary basis that might be. Students must not be made to feel uncomfortable, as might be the case if a campus Palestinian support group dares to accuse Israel of violating international law. No, much better for the students to sit in their marketing class, learning how to sell some technology product, than care about the plight of brutally oppressed people.

Journalist Saree Makdisi, writing in the LA Times, said this: “What we witness in campus debates over Israel and the Palestinians is an increasingly lopsided affair. While one side draws on historical evidence, international law and United Nations documentation, the other complains that all this makes them feel ‘threatened’ and ‘uncomfortable’.

“Scholarship is not validated by how it makes us feel, however, but by the extent to which it stands up to reason and evidence. To prioritize feelings over arguments — and to police arguments to safeguard feelings — constitutes a dire threat to academic and intellectual freedom, not least because of the mobilization of outside political forces to intervene in on-campus discussions.”

But what is any of this, when ‘vulnerable little’ Israel is under attack? How is that nation expected to defend itself, when all it has to do so is the most advanced weaponry on the planet, and complete impunity from whatever international crimes it commits? Isn’t every criticism of Israel evidence of latent anti-Semitism, just waiting to rear its ugly head in the form of another Holocaust?

The answer, quite clearly, is ‘No’. There is no threat to Israel’s national security; surely, two teenage soccer players can’t be seen as such.

Yet this mindset of a threat everywhere is one that Israel shares with the U.S. One incident is informative. In 1991, a Marine, Corporal Jeff Paterson, refused deployment to the Gulf War. He was charged with desertion, and his actions with ‘threatening the security of the United States’. That the U.S. can seriously believe that one obscure, although outspoken, U.S. Marine could threaten its security by refusing deployment seems to mirror the mindset of Israel, which sees every criticism as threatening its very existence.

Yet identifying and criticizing the horrendous human rights violations of any nation is the responsibility of all global citizens. That the U.S. Congress is owned by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will not be enough to protect Israel forever; the cracks in the protective wall that were first exposed by the BDS movement grew with the 2014 genocidal bombardment of Gaza, and have only widened since then. Israel’s desperate attempts to cling to some semblance of legitimacy were all crushed with the formation of the new, racist, apartheid government. The world has awakened; Palestine will be free.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

 

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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